Matthew McConaughey: No Shirt, No Problem

Magic Mike’s Matthew McConaughey strips down the gay community’s early enthusiasm for the film, his own dirty dance number, and why he’s always stood up for the underdog.

BY Brandon Voss

May 16 2012 5:00 AM ET

How have your views on gay people evolved since school?
Growing up, I really believed that homosexuality was environmental and cultural. Getting older and being in the film business, where there are probably more gays per capita, but also in meeting openly gay men and women in smaller towns across the south, I much more believe how much DNA has to do with it. I’ve had some great conversations with a lot of gay people about being gay, when they knew, how they came out, and how they live. I’ve also talked to some gay people who aren’t yet comfortable coming out, and boy, that’s got to be more than a daily fuckin’ headache. What a weight to carry on your shoulders. It’s all very interesting to me on a human level, because we’re all in this together.

You established the j.k. livin foundation, which promotes the physical and mental wellness of young people. As a role model who works closely with teens, what’s your response to the epidemic of antigay bullying?
Well, let me tell you the experience I had the other day that inspired something I’m about to launch in my after-school program. I went to one of our programs where the kids were playing flag football. About 70% of the kids were big physical specimens, like athletes. The other 30% were either little or heavyset or goth or whatever, but they were all playing on the same team. I thought, OK, we may be onto something here. The outcasts playing with the in-kids — how’s that working? There was a short black kid with a big afro who’d been bullied at his school for months. One day that bully came by the after-school program and starting fucking with the kid on the sidelines while he was playing football, but the linebacker got the bully in a headlock and said, “If you ever mess with him again, we’ll beat your ass.” That bully’s gone now, and the kid has carte blanche. So I want to go to high school athletic departments to offer this after-school athletics program, but the deal is that each athlete has to recruit somebody who’s not on the team — the nerd, the gay kid, the fat girl, the kid with the harelip — to join the curriculum. I’m really excited about this idea, because it could be a positive way to deal with bullying and promote diversity.

You’re the father of two young children. How would you react if one of them grew up and came out to you as gay?
That’s got to be really hard for a child, even if they think the parents’ reaction is going to be great. I’d sit down, talk to them, and ask them to walk me through how they knew, because I’d want to be open about it. There’s nothing in me that can understand disowning your child because they’re gay. You deal with it, you support them, and you also help prepare them for how some people in the world will treat and think of them. I don’t think you can sugarcoat it, because they will run into some adversity and roadblocks.

Matthew McConaughey BERNIE X400 | ADVOCATE.COMYou can currently be seen as district attorney Danny Buck Davidson in Bernie (pictured at right), which is based on the true story of Bernie Tiede, a Texas funeral director who murdered an elderly widow. Although Bernie’s sexuality is never confirmed, the film touches on speculation that Bernie seemed “light in the loafers.”
Yeah, and he “wore the belt line of his shorts just above the navel” — I added that line in. I never got to meet or talk to the real Bernie, so I don’t know whether or not he really is gay, but I think he is, and my character definitely thought so. My character was trying to stir that up with insinuation, because as with small towns anywhere, people will be spooked by anyone who’s different than the norm.

Your character also suspiciously notes that Bernie “had a subscription to Men’s Fitness magazine.” That line is especially funny considering you’ve graced the cover of Men’s Fitness.
[Laughs] Yes, but as the rest of the line goes, “Now if you’ve ever seen Bernie, you know darn well it wasn’t for the workout tips.”

Speaking of gay speculation, you’ve laughed off rumors regarding you and close friend Lance Armstrong.
Well, I’m really secure in my skin. I’m heterosexual, and I’m just fine with that. Those rumors have to make the rounds, and I know that I was fun target for them.

You’ve never played a gay role. Is it on your bucket list?
It’s not on the “no way” list, but it’s not on the bucket list either. Just tune in to all my films that are coming out in the next year or so, and you might get a little surprise. That’s all I’ll say.

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